It can be difficult working out exactly what parties stand for. They tend to put all their ideas in their Manifestos - their policy promises. This is a Superb BBC guide to all the parties in the UK General election and what their views are on particular issues. This may be useful for any young new voters.
It is clear now more than ever that the pacts are out in the upcoming election. The UUP is not fielding a candidate in North Belfast in the hope of securing a Unionist (DUP) MP in the very tight seat contested with Sinn Fein. However, the SDLP has not put up a candidate in North Belfast which then favours Sinn Fein. The DUP seem to be allowing the UUP to try and win Tyrone and they are not putting a candidate forward there to help this cause. The SDLP and Sinn Fein have made the unprecedented decision not to field three candidates in various constituencies. Power is certainly being tactically carved up.
The short answer is YES! There are a lot of areas that are very applicable to the exams:
The SDLP and Fianna Fail have announced a Joint policy agenda which looks to be a tentative step towards a much anticipated link up. The SDLP have always coveted Sinn Fein's claim to be the largest party in Ireland. They have always wanted to claim those all Ireland links which resonate with nationalist voters. Fianna Fail on the other hand are one of the most successful political parties in western Europe and they perhaps sense the danger Sinn Fein poses. They also sense the havoc brexit could pose and perhaps some level of opportunity for links with the north.
This is ESSENTIAL understanding for your Northern Ireland Politics course and esepcially with regards to the parties.
There is the realisation that the party despite its obvious progress over recent years still has an ugly taint of the past to overcome. Allegations of past involvement in murders, rapes and disappearances have
hounded the party over the recent years and this makes it difficult to emerge into a modern political
entity accepted by almost all as a legitimate political party. It also anchors the parties reputation as a
‘northern party’ which makes it difficult to fight on an all Ireland agenda. One of the difficulties was
having the controversial figure of Gerry Adams as President. Adams was regarded with obvious respect
by the party but was ‘tainted by the past’ by many of the Irish population and this was recognised.
Mary Lou McDonald as leader therefore has a number of key attributes which could transform Sinn Fein.
Gerry Adams announced that he will be standing down as leader of Sinn Fein next year. This news is not wholly unexpected. Adams has put his political heart and soul into the party and is instantly recognisable across Ireland and across the world for his leadership of Sinn Fein from a party of dubious connections to one of peacemakers and government. What is clearly apparent though is that his past may play well with the party but it certainly does not play well with mainstream Irish politics. Sinn Fein have grown electorally to one of the strongest electoral forces on the island - yet they are still excluded from government in the Republic of Ireland by both main parties. This is to do with their past and with Gerry Adams role in that past.
By moving beyond Adams the party can stretch into a post Troubles world potentially and really make itself a mainstream all Ireland party with all that may entail. Certainly Mary Lou Macdonald must stand as the obvious choice for leader. She is from a southern background, is a warmer and charismatic figure and plays well with the electorate in the south. It would make for an all female double North and South of the border too. What's more she is certainly not as tainted with the past as Mr Adams may have been.
Mr John Wishart -